(Eric Crump/Democrat-News) [Order this photo]
"At this time of year, we turn our attention toward thoughts of peace, joy, family and friends," he said. "But it's not always easy. Life sometimes seems to have other ideas. Today, Marshall Community Chorus is performing with a very heavy heart. Yesterday we lost one of our members. Carolyn Eales, who sang with us 11 years ago at our very first celebration of the season, passed away suddenly. so we are dedicating this concert this afternoon to her memory."
Sayer also referred to tragedies that have occurred recently elsewhere without naming specific incidents.
"And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"
Sayer said he hoped the concert would offer some consolation for everyone touched by tragedy.
"This afternoon, I think we must remember the cathartic effect music has, the effect that it has on the soul in times of trouble and pain," he said, and offered a quote from Leonard Bernstein, made shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
"This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before."
The chorus then continued its program, which included a variety of interpretations of the Christmas story from over a many centuries, from "Infant Holy," a Polish carol, to "Still, Still, Still," an Austrian carol, and concluding with "The First Nowell," introduced with a reading of the Christmas story by Michael Brennan.
MCC turned the stage over to two groups of Marshall High School singers, the Choraliers and MHS Singers, who performed their half of the concert.
The MHS groups were joined by MCC for their finale, "Sing, Choirs of Angels."
MCC provided the conclusion to the concert with "Christmas Bells are Ringing" and Sayer's arrangement of "We Wish You a Merry Christmas."
The singers were accompanied by MCC piano accompanist Julie Lewis, MHS vocal music piano accompanist Edith Pautz, trumpeters Kevin Lines and Chuck Appleton, trombonists David Meyer and Mike Grove, and flutist Kim Schlomer.
Sayer conducted MCC and the combined choirs. MHS vocal music Director Joel Schilb conducted the MHS choirs.